Monday, May 02, 2016

So, What Has Russell Been Watching?

If I'm going to get back into blogging, I might as well begin with something simple--like, what have I been doing over the past few months when I haven't been writing? In part, I've been watching tv. Let's get caught up:

Daredevil. I thought the second season was great, though it wobbled in the same way the first season wobbled--namely, crowding up story with so many plot points (or plot-points-that-might-actually-be-read-herrings) that it seemed impossible to believe that they'd be able to stick the landing. And yet, they did. Daredevil's final battle with The Hand (for now!) wasn't nearly as effective as season one's final showdown between Daredevil and the Kingpin, but since season two was really primarily about changes in the people surrounding Matt Murdock, and not the accomplishments of Matt himself, I thought the final reveals made and seeds planted with Frank Castle, Karen Page, Foggy Nelson, Electra, Stick, Jeryn Hogarth, and more were all pretty great. I wish this season had featured as much Catholicism as the first one did, but there were plenty of discussions of ethics to make up for that lack.

Downton Abbey. Yes, Melissa and I finished up the final season earlier this year. Why did we stick with it all the way through, even though the only truly interesting characters (Sybil and Matthew) both were killed off in season three, and Thomas completely ran out of plot by the time O'Brien left at the beginning of season four? Because that's what soap operas do: they get you hooked on the characters, their clothes, their petty disagreements and quirks, and so you keep turning in, hoping something interesting will happen to them. Julian Fellowes frustratingly strung us along, particularly with Bates--you could fill another whole six seasons of the show solely with all the romantic, criminal, dramatic, and conspiratorial possibilities which he was never allowed to develop in the direction of--and he tended to reduce the characters he's lost interest in to sad sacks (Edith, Branson), but hey: we had to see what happened. And we did.

The Flash. I got hooked on this show, after hearing so much good about it for over a year, back in January, and by mid-February I'd blown through the whole first season. What fun! Total Silver Age goofball stories, told with utter seriousness and plenty of genuinely clever reworkings of all the old Flash stand-bys. The season long Harrson Wells/Reverse Flash storyline unfolded at just the right pace, with all the excursions taken along the way as being perfectly forgivable in Barry Allen's fundamentally optimistic, technology-will-solve-almost-anything, self-contained world. My fondness for The Flash led me to try to give Arrow another try, but it still doesn't quite work for me. I may give \Legends of Tomorrow a try, but for I'm just waiting for season two of The Flash to hit Netflix, so my youngest daughter and I can binge on watching it together (see below).

House of Cards. I have to say I was disappointed with season four, or at least quickly became so after Frank survived Lucas's assassination attempt and Claire returned to his side. There was good stuff that remained after that turning point (it was good to see Hammerschmidt in action again), but as I explained at length after season three, I really feel as though, with Frank's ascension to the presidency, his character is limited in the directions he could go and still provide the sort of intelligently gonzo plotting that made the show great--the time had some to focus on Claire instead. And, of course, this season did feature a lot of Claire...but only in association with Frank, and that's a loss. Will I give season five I try? Maybe, maybe not.

Jessica Jones. Yes, this was last year, but I never wrote about it then, and it makes a nice pairing with the other show I've been sucked into (see below). It was a great show, and it deserves all the praise it received, in terms of its depiction of the consequences of sexual violence, obsession, post-traumatic stress, female friendship, and more. Actually, my only complaints with the show were horribly geeky--as the series went on, I kept feeling as though the series was cheating a little in how it demonstrated Kilgrave's powers (couldn't someone just talk themselves out of doing what Kilgrave commands? Jessica manages to free Trish from Kilgrave's command to "put a bullet in your head!" by putting a shell into her mouth, thereby convincing her she'd obeyed Kilgrave). But that's a silly complaint, really. All in all, really good television.

Supergirl. The same, unfortunately, can't truly be said about Supergirl; while its first season had some really great moments, it was, overall, a pretty pedestrian and sometimes outright weak. But it was still easily the television shows I've most enjoyed watching over this past tv season, and it has everything to do with the fact that my youngest daughter, Kristen, and I watch it together. I was intrigued by the reviews of the first episode, and mentioned my interest to Kristen, and she jumped on the idea of us watching it together--and that's what we ended up doing for months, Kristen with her Supergirl t-shirt on, delighting in every crazy twist in Kara Danvers's life. She was frightened by the White Martians, thrilled by the fight with the Red Tornado, and the episode where Kara's possessed mind took her back to Krypton made her cry. She loves Supergirl, and I love it right along with her.

And now summer's here, so what I do I watch? Well, I've still never seen Agent Carter. And I've been thinking that I need to rewatch Sherlock, to remind myself why everyone fell in love with Benedict Cumberbatch. Plus a friend has insisted that it's about time Melissa and I went back and watched Friday Night Lights. So who knows? It's the Golden Age of Television, friends; the good stuff is endless.

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